Trust in Journalism Sinks to All-Time Low

A new YouGov poll for IMPRESS (the Independent Monitor for the Press CIC approved by the Press Recognition Panel on 25 October 2016) has revealed that public trust in the press is at an all-time low. Only 11% of people in the UK trust journalists at mid-market newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express to tell the truth whilst fewer than one in ten trust journalists at tabloids such as The Sun and the Mirror. Journalists at broadsheets and local newspapers do not fare much better, with just 36% of the public trusting them to tell the truth. When asked how they would describe the British press, the most common responses included words such as ‘liars’, ‘untrustworthy’ and ‘unreliable’. Other common answers included the words ‘exaggerated’, ‘sensationalist’ and ‘fake’. Only 3% of the public would trust a press regulator set up by newspaper publishers and 8% would prefer to see a regulator set up by the Government. A large majority (73%) would most trust a press regulator that was independent of Government and newspaper publishers. Jonathan Heawood, CEO of IMPRESS, said: ‘as the Government consults on the Leveson inquiry and its implementation, the public’s voice could not be clearer. People do not trust the press to regulate itself and they cannot afford to take news publishers to court. They want to see independent press regulation as Lord Justice Leveson recommended. Only then will the public consider placing their trust in the press once again. And only then will the valuable work of decent journalists be properly recognised.’ Respondents to the poll, which was carried out on 29-30 November 2016, were asked what was most important to them when deciding which newspaper to read in print or online. The most common factor was ‘decent standards of journalism’ (50%). Only 9% of the public are confident that, if they were personally harmed by a newspaper, they could afford to take the publication to court. When YouGov researched trust in the press ten years ago, in May 2006, they found that 37% of the public trusted journalists at national newspapers to tell the truth. Trust in national newspaper journalism has halved since then, and now stands at an all-time low of 18% – below even the level of 19% which was reached in July 2011, when the outcry over phone hacking was at its height.